2018-02-09: House of One Thousand Games

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  • Log: House of One Thousand Games
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Corwynt, Shalune Amira, Margaret, Lunata Croze, Lydia Seren, Dean Stark
  • Where: Fortune Gear
  • Date: February 9th 2018
  • Summary: Towards the borders of Krosse, a number of individuals come across the elusive manor of chance and gambling known only as the Fortune Gear. Within, they find a hint that a statue may lurk, but can they play to win?

DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering Fortune Gear.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===============================<* Fortune Gear *>===============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - A Matter of Luck *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A house of wealth long buried within time's clutches.
 A mechanical monstrosity of technological bounties untold.
 A parlour of fate, attracting noone but the most avid of gamblers.

 Whatever the case may be, you have decided to strike out for 'Fortune Gear',
 a Ruin of mysterious origin -- but quickly come upon a common problem for
 those who seek it out: Its entrance does not appear to stay still. One
 Drifter says he simply wandered the desert and stumbled upon it by chance;
 another says it emerged near a train station she decided to visit on a lark.

 Proper to its name, Fortune Gear is a Gear-sized shifting mechanical mansion
 that burrows beneath the sand. It only avails itself to those who are
 comfortable enough to submit themselves to fortune. But the only question
 remains:

 How long will it take you to realise that?
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Loren wonders if this is a good idea.

FLASH BACKWARDS, ABOUT TEN MINUTES AGO:

Traveling within Krosse's borders has proven somewhat difficult going, even with the papers provided, at least out in the towns closer to the border. Whether this is because they're more concerned with foreigners out this way, or it's the general trend of small towns on the surface (as well as the fact that he's Clearly Not From Their Town), or something else going on, he's already gleaned some sense of the country's mood.
He's also gotten some sense of what's happening to the foreigners that are caught inside the borders, which he had planned on submitting a note regarding, once he'd backtracked a distance, closer to where the grasslands make room for sand.

And in doing so, he'd been rather dumbfounded to find a gated entrance to a... manor, of some sort, that had certainly not been in the middle of the road the last time.
You remember things like that.

AND SO, BACK IN THE NOW:

If this is a hallucination, it's certainly a very tactile hallucination, he thinks, carefully investigating the gateway to the mechanical mansion and rapping a hand against it. With his free hand, he readjusts his glasses -- surreptitiously invoking a spare burst of ether in the process -- and takes a more careful look.

"This looks like a trap," is his general assessment. And yet, he'd never hear the end of it if he didn't try for a closer look.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Etheric Lenses toward his party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

Corwynt the Storm Fist, second-in-command of the local forces of the Goddess Althena of the planet Lunar, might be inclined to agree with Loren Voss's assessment of the situation. It sure would look like a trap to him if, say, he was to have been following up on a long-range patrol that had failed to check in. But that guy is not here right now, because seconds in command who are notorious for challenging Weltall to a fistfight in the middle of Adlehyde are sort of notorious.

Who is here instead is someone who would look very much like the Storm Fist - down to his dark gi with the emblem of The Wondrous Academy of the Smiling breeze emblazoned on his arms - were it not for the fact that he was wearing a large sombrero and an exceedingly bushy, exceedingly fake, moustache.

He has introduced himself as 'Il Drifter Misterioso Corwynt.' Leo spent hours on the hat alone.

"Si, mi amigo," the little man says with all the confidence and horrible gringo accent of someone who has memorized language books but hardly ever heard the language in question spoken. A little jewel hanging from a chain around his neck gleams in the fading light; as Loren invokes an Etheric reaction, the little man grimaces, turning to stare at the man, his mouth curling in distaste. The sensation boiling off the man is as far from the Goddess's Blessing as it could be. But this is not the time.

"But perhaps we can spring it if we move forward with confidence, si?" he asks, striding forward.

DG: Corwynt has used his Tool Rememberizer toward his party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Innocently sat on a patch of grass and reasonably flat ground just outside of the mansion's main gates is... a tent, roped securely to the ground.

It's a reasonably nice-looking tent, obviously homemade - or at least store-bought once upon a time, but since patched up and restitched enough to make it a very personal thing. Next to it are the remnants of a carefully maintained campfire, separated from the dry grass by virtue of a large flat metal bowl it's been placed within. On top of it sits a pot, half-blackened from smoke but still smelling of something warm and beefy.

It's rustling slightly, and there's a long drawn out 'nnnn' as someone inside works at the tie that's holding the tentflaps closed against the element. Moments later, a yeti made up of pink hair pokes its head out, pushing along the mound of blankets it's surrounded itself with, and you can just see the bleary bubbles bobbing up from it. "Fu~ua~ah..." yawns the figure at length, and then she manages to drag enough of the messy bedhead out of her face to reveal a terribly familiar mechanic, evidently still not anywhere near away.

"Mu~un... it's morning already? What's the noise for..." she burbles at the misshapen figures who are talking, scratching a hand through the mess of hair as she tries to stand up while her legs are tied up in her blankets. It takes her a few tries. "Lunie, breakfa~ast..."

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

MARGARET, the BLACK PEARL of NEO-VANE, has put on a sequinned mask while otherwise wearing her usual action dress and carrying the same mixture of a long pipe (in hand) and naginata (over shoulder) that MARGARET, the BLACK PEARL of NEO-VANE would.

The person who is totally Margaret has not deigned to introduce herself as of yet. Loren would absolutely recognize the essential oil fragrance blend she slathered herself with even if he was, somehow - possibly due to a round of intoxication or a severe head injury - unable to recognize any other aspect of Margaret's appearance.

"You don't happen to be affiliated with a mysterious man who steals Golems, are you?" she finally says, towards the man who is totally Loren. After this her eyes turn towards...

Campers?

"Oh by the Goddess, look at that," she says, even as she reaches a hand into a container of divinatory cards at her side, letting the naginata balance perfectly on her shoulder. "Oh she's - YOU! WOMAN! How comfortable are you right now?"

The card comes out. Margaret flips it towards Corwynt and says to him, "What is it? Lie if you feel like it. It works the same way."

The card is an angelic representation of a twisting wheel. The subtitle is artfully inscribed: WHEEL OF FORTUNE. It's even favorably oriented!

DG: Margaret has used her Tool Travelers Cards toward her party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

There's another rustling from the tent as a similarly-bleary eyed Lunata pops her head out, dressed in fluffy pajamas, to mumble, "The sun's not high enough... I wanna take five more minuteeees..." she sniffles for a moment, then gestures somewhat vaguely towards the bowl that's seated outside as she responds, "Soup's already on, though... I'm gonna go..." and then she can't even finish that sentence, yawning as she reaches into her rucksack and places a very familiar sign:

DUNGEON SOUP OF THE DAY

Beef bourguignon with bacon, shallots and mushrooms
served with five-grain country bread and garlic butter

Loren might be increasingly worried if he's gained some Resonance, though, because the same floating sword that he saw in Old Petra is suddenly not that far from him--

--and if he and others can see it, a spectral lich is rubbing her bony jaw in confusion at the manor. How curious??

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Soup of the Day toward her party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

Corwynt channels enough of the Blessing to cause the wind to sweep the card up into his waiting hand, because it looks impressive and it's all practice anyway. He glances at the card. "Il Fortuna, belladonna," he says, grammatically incorrectly. "Por que?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"It's okay," Lydia Seren, whom Loren might not even know because she's no longer a rock headed individual and now is only rockheaded in a metaphorical sense. "I brought Schrodinger."

She drops Schrodinger to the ground, which looks like to be a cat, and lets it waddle forward. Schrodinger is a black cat, so maybe this is what relying on fortune is because Lydia just follows wherever the cat goes and licks her hand when Schrodinger licks its paws and the like.

Eventually she looks to Corwynt in his Stereotype Disguise. She is unaware that he probably got his disguise skill from Leo too.

"Oh hey." Lydia tells Margaret upon spotting her between following a cat aimlessly. "It's you again." Pause. "I guess I should apologize or something, because it turns out malevolence is actually a bad thing, I guess, and being a hellion actually sucks and doesn't rule. I mean your Goddess is still bullshit for outlawing everything fun, but you were right about that so sorry about that. I was wrong."

She thinks that got everything she has to apologize for with regards to Margaret so she leaves it at that and starts eating Lunata's soup.

"Man," She says. "I don't even like mushrooms."

Siiip. Watch cat. Siiiip.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune doesn't even seem to quite get the idea of Margaret's question - but she certainly looks terribly comfy, nearly pitching to one side as Lunata disappears back inside the tent for an extra five minutes. "Oka~a~ay..." she burbles, and-- proceeds to basically sleep sitting up.

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

"I was hoping it would be the Tower, but Fortune indicates that we have to trust to a change in things, probably good," Margaret says.

The soup of the day sign comes out.

Margaret's eyes slowly widen behind her mask. "I appreciate your apology, however prevaricative and conditional," Margaret tells Lydia without looking at her. "You're forgiven, IF:"

Margaret points with the kiseru. "You get me some of that soup."

After a beat, she adds to Lydia, "How did you recognize me?"

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean isn't here following up on anything! Dean's just... Well. He was supposed to be heading to Krosse, but then there were a bunch of guards, and they were talking about some rumors about a weird mansion, and how it was clockwork and moved around, and Dean thought about that for a moment while going along his way, and then he thought: 'What if it's a GOLEM??'

Cue Dean dropping everything to pursue his passions. And when it comes to Golem Hunting, there's a certain level of luck needed, isn't there?

"Oh hey, Lunie! Hey, Lydie!" he says cheerfully as he approaches the clearing with the strange mansion thing. This isn't what he's looking for--at least, he doesn't realize it's what he's looking for--but he smelled something nice and then Shalune popped her head out and he'd recognize that mop of pink hair anywhere! Isn't it lucky that he just happened to spot a friend he hasn't seen in a while, whom he wouldn't hesitate to greet? And then Lunata pops out, and he adds, "Wow, that soup looks really good, Lunie! What's a boor-gwig-none?"

Other people are talking. Dean perks when he sees Loren, who saved him from drowning by accident one time, and waves enthusiastically. "Hey!! Hi Thom!! What're you doing out here? Are you looking for Golems, too?" Margaret he doesn't recognize, but Il Misterioso etc etc he does, so he adds, "Hi, lady! Hi Mr. Misterioso Something Corvent!"

He says this last part with complete and total earnestness. He's not trying to mess the fake name up on purpose at all. Why bother with something so petty when there are Golems to be found??

DG: Dean Stark has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, A Matter of Luck.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia blinks several times.

"......." Lydia looks away to the right, looking embarrassed. "........."

What..what is she supposed to say here? She can't even pretend to not recognize her because she admitted it.

"I uh..." She says. "I didn't realize...I thought you were just dressing fancy..."

She will get Margaret a cup of the soup, though. She waves to Dean as he arrives with a "Hey dude!" She hopes Dean's sweet innocence will distract from the whole disguise thing.

===============================<* Fortune Gear *>===============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - A Matter of Luck *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A house of wealth long buried within time's clutches.
 A mechanical monstrosity of technological bounties untold.
 A parlour of fate, attracting noone but the most avid of gamblers.

 Whatever the case may be, you have decided to strike out for 'Fortune Gear',
 a Ruin of mysterious origin -- but quickly come upon a common problem for
 those who seek it out: Its entrance does not appear to stay still. One
 Drifter says he simply wandered the desert and stumbled upon it by chance;
 another says it emerged near a train station she decided to visit on a lark.

 Proper to its name, Fortune Gear is a Gear-sized shifting mechanical mansion
 that burrows beneath the sand. It only avails itself to those who are
 comfortable enough to submit themselves to fortune. But the only question
 remains:

 How long will it take you to realise that?
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
==========================<* Fortune Gear - Round 1 *>==========================
=========================< Results - A Matter of Luck >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Etheric Lenses                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          0 --(10)--> 10                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Travelers Cards                     3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Soup of the Day                     3   Wits    Effects: Rally
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Corwynt                             0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Rememberizer                        2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

If there's one thing consistent about Lunata, it's that she's a picky chef and won't lower her standards just because she's on the road camping, so mmmmm, delicious slow-cooked pieces of tender beef brisket in a rich tomato and red wine reduction gravy with sweet shallots, delicate button mushrooms with a hint of tarragon and rosemary....

Lunata is out a moment later, brushing her teeth as she murmurs through her rinsing, "It's a stew from Meria Boule... Auntie Hilda taught me..."

Digging, it seems, would have to wait until they've brushed their teeth.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

There are more than a few people present here who get their turn of increasingly skeptical scruitiny from the combat-medic-turned-novice-investigator (and totally definitely just a normal ex-medical student from Bledavik). In approximate order:

Corwynt, who he is reasonably sure he's met (or read about, in some report somewhere?) before, without the... disguise, who tells him if perhaps in not so many words that it's a trap they can be try to spring. "Unless it kills us first," he remarks off-handedly, gaze lingering on the man as if distantly attempting to figure out the intent behind that facial expression moments before.

Margaret, who while she might not introduce herself, has the scent of some oil or another about her that prompts no memory but that of the time he awoke in a strange tent and ended up hanging out with some stranger people. He glances at her, sidelong. "I have no idea what you're talking about," 'Thomas' says to Margaret, brow crinkled in something approaching bemusement.

The two figures sleepily awakening in the tent -- the one girl dimly familiar (considering the last time he saw her she was atop a golem in a sandstorm) from voice and general appearance, while the other is...
Oh. Oh no. ...It's that waitress with the illegal sword. Inwardly, a part of Loren has begun to resign himself to the general shape of 'today'.

Particularly when Dean shows up. Loren resists the urge to introduce his hand to his forehead, and instead settles for briefly (briefly now) closing his eyes. "No. I'm not looking for golems. ...Don't tell me you think this," and here he gestures back towards the manor, "Looks like a golem."

And, finally, there's the matter of the skeletal figure, which Loren can see now, and which he's wondering faintly whether he should be hoping is or isn't a hallucination of some sort.
Maybe he should put that visit to medical in Bledavik at the top of his to-do list, whenever chance decides that he gets to go back to base again.

It's really just Lydia who he doesn't recognize in some way, shape or form, and it's only because her appearance may have changed a little since they last crossed paths.
And her cat too.

It's almost as if chance itself has managed to gather the whole crew here just to put the capstone on how his week has been going, and...
Wait.

Chance? Fortune, he thinks, watching the card as it passes hands, as the cat skips ahead for the entrance as bold as can be. "...Luck," he finishes, the thought occuring to him quite suddenly. "Isn't there a Guardian of Luck?"

(But before he goes any further with this, he's getting a cup of the soup.)

DG: Corwynt has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Fortune Gear *>===============================
=================<* CHALLENGE - The Wheel of Fate is Turning *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Several outdoor catwalks lead you to the guts of the clockwork manor to
 another gambling house, with an enormous wheel dominating the floor. The
 wheel is notched with red and black squares assigned with double-digit
 numbers.

 Instructions are nearby, explaining that in order to pass, you will need to
 bet on either colors or numbers -- and where the ball shall spin, no one
 knows!

 Said ball is a colossally dense steel sphere near to where you entered. A
 heavy lever spins the wheel! It's time to roll up your sleeves, because
 moving either will be no trivial feat of strength.
=Dungeon Conditions: Collapse, Suffer, Injure=================================
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

"Ah, young Senor Stark," Corwynt says with a note of genuine pleasure in his voice - it seems Dean made an impression on him the last time they found each other on a dig such as this. "I had hoped I would see you again before winter is coming." He reaches inside his gi and pulls out a small envelope, handing it over. "The written works I promised you, on the Divine Althena. If you would like to hear more---"

(NO)

(WE WOULDN'T)

The next room does indeed appear to be Chapapanga's personal paradise, in the form of some sort of large game of chance. Corwynt's expression darkens under his moustache, but only for a moment - Althena has forbidden this, but duty is duty. "Ah, it seems we may be being tested indeed!" he says, rolling up his sleeves and moving toward the ball. "They say that Il Fortuna is the only thing that will run out if you push it!" he adds, demonstrating that the only greater battle than Corwynt against his accent is Corwynt against proverbs.

DG: Corwynt has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

"Chapapanga..." Lunata answers, having somehow appeared next to Loren having brushed up and ready for the day. She's swapped outfits so that she's at least not Digging in her pajamas, instead in her familiar black dress with a Yggdrasil Alliance jacket with a Black Wolves patch on it -- she might not be a proper member, but at some point she probably got given a sticker just because she asked for one...!

"Wow... um, what's all this?" Lunata looks rather confused as she glances to and fro, peering towards the giant roulette wheel.

She gestures towards the lich again, and Loren might be dismayed to find out it isn't a hallucination, or at least it's a helpful hallucination, helping lift the ball up along with Corwynt...

"I want to bet on Black!"

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Eventually, Shalune is coaxed into her clothes and up towards something like wakefulness - even if she pauses every few minutes to let out a truly impressive yawn and scratch at the bits of hair that stick out from under her bobble hat. "Oh~, Lydie~, Deano~... did you go on a dig or somethin'? Ehehe, to think you'd find us..." she muzzily grins as she gets led into the mansion and through some of the corridors.

She still kind of looks like she's in her pajamas, but only because she chooses to wear a pale yellow sweater, lovingly rumpled, over an orange shirt and with a pair of faded but mostly-blue cargo jeans. At least she perks up at the sight of the machinery, finally alert as her eyes widen. "Wah, look at the size of the place!" she blurts, eventually choosing to shoulder her backpack rather than drag it along the ground behind her. Fortunately, it seems none the worse for wear, and she's able to fish out a couple of strangely hinged devices in a wedge shape.

She sticks her tongue out the corner of her mouth as she concentrates, sights along a line to try to 'aim' the gigantic metal ball, and wedges her... tiny ramps?... as far as she can under the ball.

"Okay, um, when I turn these on they'll give it a push, so get ready and maybe make sure you're not in the way--"

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.- toward her party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Every so often, Lydia gives Thomas Blackwell a smile and blushes periodically because he is a sinner.

Of course, Thomas Blackwell might not recognize who she is so it might not mean anything to him anyway. Still, when they finally reach a large ball, Lydia does something that MIGHT be familiar to Thomas Blackwell, at least in spirit if not in literalness.

That's right, Lydia immediately starts kicking at it with her foot rapidly. "Hey! HEY!! Let us through!!"

No she didn't read the manual.

Eventually she can be pried off the thing.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

When soup is presented, Margaret devours it swiftly. There may be faint tooth marks in the cup glazing afterwards.

"... Hmh," she says to Lydia, who she recalls mostly from her adventures in shirt sellning. From here, the question arises of whether there is a guardian of Luck. Margaret takes a drag off her pipe and exhales to the side. "I think so?"

She nods when Corwynt gives "Thomas" a pamphlet, and soon enough they are faced with --

A gambling hall?!

MARGARET CAMO INDEX: 70%

The naginata and kiseru are stowed in the same way as she sees the ball appear and as Margaret advances, as if to support Corwynt in his plan to push the heavy object. As she does, she gives Dean a passing smile and a wink from behind her mask. "Hello~<3 Are you a Golem Fan too? It's a pretty interesting subject, isn't it! You haven't heard about the location or disposition of any Golems lately, have you?!"

DG: Margaret has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

"Well, duh, of course it doesn't! That's obviously someone's house! How dumb do you think I am?" Dean replies to Loren, a little affronted. Geez! He knows he can be dense, but come on, that's obviously *not* a Golem! However, he pauses when Loren muses aloud on what this might have to do with.

"You mean... The Luck Guardian Statue could be inside here? But... it's a house in the middle of nowhere," he says, a little dubious. All his doubts are cleared, however, when the door opens up--to reveal a most exquisitely interior, one that makes it clear this is no house but something more...

"Wow...!" he breathes, eyes saucer-wide. "A Statue inside a Golem! That really *is* lucky!"

...

He's not letting go of the Golem thing, is he...

He gets distracted when Corwynt greets him back with a smile, bringing up-- "Written works?" Dean echoes, look blank. It's not until the name Althena comes up that realization dawns. "OH! Oh yeah! I totally forgot about that!" he utters. "Thanks, but, uhhh, sorry, not right now! We've got a Golem to hunt!!" Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle, sparkle. At least he tucks the envelope into a jacket pocket instead of straight-up throwing it away. He *is* interested in learning more about Althena, whoever she is, just... not now!

To Lunata, he says with great enthusiasm: "I have no idea! Isn't it *cool*??" To Shalune, he says, "Nope, but it looks like we're about to go on one! Funny coincidence, us all meeting up like this, huh?" As the others start to shove the giant ball, he too joins in, though he waits for Shalune to set up her ramps. "Okay! Then just gimme the word and I'll push with everything I've got, Lunie! --Lydie--Lydie, wait, we gotta push it together, don't just start kicking it out of nowhere--"

Then Margaret says the Magic Word and indicates to Dean that she might have some slight possible passing interest in Golems. "I SURE AM!!" he enthuses, sparkling over her way now, ball momentarily but completely forgotten. "I haven't seen any ones recently, except for the one my friend Fei gave me, and Lunie's got one but I've known her for a while, but--"

Cue Dean rambling at speed about Golems and a panoply of rumors he's heard, only a handful of which have even a scrap of veracity to them. This is on you, Margaret. This is what you wanted.

DG: Dean Stark has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

'Thomas' perhaps pointedly does not answer that innocent question of Dean's.

And if any pamphlets end up handed Loren's way, he'll end up passing them over to the first person who crosses his path.

(It might be Dean.)

Within the confines of the manor, the first thing that they meet is...
Huh. "A game of chance?" Loren hazards, furrowing his brow as he takes in the scenery... and the instructions. Number ranges are one option. Colors are another. "Let's try evens," he suggests, watching as more than a few of them move to try and shift the heavy ball into place and...

oh emperor please let that be a hallucination

One moment's recovery later -- coupled with the point where Loren takes a breath and the point where he realizes that Lydia's mannerisms are intensely familiar to the point where an identity almost provides itself -- he shifts his focus elsewhere, a faint jolt of vibration sunk into the structure of the place itself to try and add his own (etheric) push to the proceedings.

It's not cheating if you're just trying to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Wheel of Fate is Turning.
===============================<* Fortune Gear *>===============================
=================<* CHALLENGE - The Wheel of Fate is Turning *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Several outdoor catwalks lead you to the guts of the clockwork manor to
 another gambling house, with an enormous wheel dominating the floor. The
 wheel is notched with red and black squares assigned with double-digit
 numbers.

 Instructions are nearby, explaining that in order to pass, you will need to
 bet on either colors or numbers -- and where the ball shall spin, no one
 knows!

 Said ball is a colossally dense steel sphere near to where you entered. A
 heavy lever spins the wheel! It's time to roll up your sleeves, because
 moving either will be no trivial feat of strength.
=Dungeon Conditions: Collapse, Suffer, Injure=================================
==========================<* Fortune Gear - Round 2 *>==========================
===================< Results - The Wheel of Fate is Turning >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          5 --(25)--> 30                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          10 --(15)--> 25                Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            5 --(25)--> 30                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.-      3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Corwynt                             5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(25)--> 30                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(1)|Collapse|Injure(2)|Suffer(1)
Effects:
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

The party pushes, they pull, they strain, they channel the evil forces of the universe... and the ball eventually slips up over the separator and lands in the adjoining black square with a loud *THUNK*.

And then the entire floor collapses, dropping them toward the next part of the Dig.

....victory?

DG: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Go-ing My Way *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 A tranquil chamber rises up in piano fashion behind this sliding door. There
 is nothing in this room save ancient tatami mats, floor cushions and solid
 wood boards, along with two pots of black and white flat beads.

 It doesn't take long before the spirits of gamblers long past manifest
 before you, dressed in yukata and taking whiffs of their ethereal pipes. It
 would seem that this is a game where you flip your opponent's beads by
 surrounding them with your own...

 The door ahead shall only open to those that demonstrate dominance in black
 or white. And with so many tables and spirits, there's no shortage of spaces
 to play.
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Injure, Suffer==================================
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

The metal steel ball erupts with a 'THOOM' and, much to everyone's chagrin, the entire floor gives way after it's evident that they've won the grand prize: A way forward. Which is also apparently a way downwards, as evidenced by their sudden fall. Fortunately, the tatami that they collapse onto isn't the hardest flooring, ancient or not, and it's with a grouse that Lunata murmurs, "Geez... my hiney hurts..."

They aren't alone for very long, however -- ethereal spirits start to manifest around this ancient gambling hall, and the ghostly figments of gamblers dressed in a very unusual style of clothing seat before them. Before a solid wood board, 8 by 8, two pots of beads set to one side...

"... is this a game hall or something? I've never seen any game like this..." Lunata has to comment. Ge Ramda is pensive and quiet, shaking her head as she looks away for some reason.

"Ge-Ge? You're looking a bit tense..."

How can she tell, when she only has a skeleton for a face?!

"Um-- anyone know how this game works?"

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

Il Misterioso Drifter Corwynt drifts down with the power of his MYSTERIOUS MAJESTY, or possibly by channeling the Blessing of his goddess to summon winds that slow and cushion his fall. Y'know, one or the other.

He surveys the room, and it tickles something in his memory. Another whisper of the Blessing of Althena causes the gem on his pendant to shimmer faintly, and the rooms of his mind open and expand outward, into infinity. The Rememberizer grants the grizzled warrior the gift, and curse, of truly perfect recall. Every sight, sound, taste, scent, and sensation of his life, all at once, as fresh and alive as the moment he felt it.

Corwynt lets out a slow, steadying breath. He has lived a hard life, and not all of it good.

"It resembles a game I once heard of," he says, the accent slipping away as he sifts through the vaults of his mind. "Keep balanced edges. Get to the corners. Leave plays only we can make until the very end."

DG: Corwynt has used his Tool Rememberizer toward his party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

"Oh goodness! Fei! Can you give me a location and description? Do you know where he put it~? Hmm, hmmm," Margaret says, vivaciously and with every single possible sign of enthusiastic interest.

I can't believe it, Margaret thinks. Months of fruitless activity and some cherry boy in tight pants wanders up and tells me everything. I have to survive this, and make sure HE survives it, so I can pump him dry of every drop of information in his--!!!

It is at this point that the floor gives way.

Margaret is not immediately distinct from the ghosts and figments until she finally speaks up and says, "Corwynt! Dean! What in the name of the Destroyer's striped underpants is going on?!" At this point her temporary camo index of 95% is obviated, and like many optical illusions, once you've figured out the trick she's not that hidden at all.

"What he said," Margaret says, before glaring at the figment across from her.

"You think you can predict my strategy?" she asks the ghost.

Then she slaps down her deck of cards. And instead of using rational thought or strategy, she acts *completely arbitrarily,* guided by a deck of cards last shuffled three hours ago.

DG: Margaret has used her Tool Travelers Cards toward her party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

By now, Shalune has been tempted fully awake - not just from the giant roulette contraption and the dawning comprehension that this place might, in fact, actually be a single gigantic mechanical thing, but more because a fall does wonders for your sense of urgency, and Shalune's left going 'wa~ah--!' as she disappears into the darkness.

She has the sense to tuck and roll as she lands, the only problem being the way that more or less barrels her straight into a couple of other people, and it takes a moment for her to untangle herself and her hair from the mess she finds herself in.

Once she's up, however, she has to gawk. "Hmm... maybe she's feeling nostalgic? It seems like her kind of place, somehow..." she wonders, before perking up at both Lunata and Corwynt. There is not a single iota of guile in her face as she suggests: "It's just checkers! Right? I mean, they've got too many pieces so it must be some kinda weird rules, but there's no way I'd forget a board like that."

She hum-hums, full of personal pride.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"WAAUUGH!"

Lydia hits the floor but remembers to not try to hit the floor head first this time. Instead she shifts her arm about and lets THAT hit the floor first. The metal splashes outward before coalescing back into the shape of an arm. She's still dizzied when she gets up before looking over to Lunata, slowly comprehending that they stumbled into the Legend of the Hidden Temple ruins. She considers this next game before setting down the cat once more and, well, just letting the cat play. That's her plan.

"I can't tell if we're lucky or not right now." Lydia admits to Shalune lazily as she camps here to see what Schrodinger does.

Schrodinger starts pawing over game pieces.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

Naturally, the floor falls out.

Naturally.

Rising from the floor with a groan, the medic can't help but wonder -- not for the first time and not for the last -- who designs these places and why they opt for such obvious safety hazards.
Though to be fair, in this case, the creator and the reasoning will ultimately become clear.
"And to think that was the winning result," he remarks dryly, readjusting his glasses as he takes in the array before them.

Quietly, spirits play upon a board, setting down black or white.

One very important factor comes into play here: Loren has a particular hobby -- partially a result of his friendless years (not even a dedicated nerd can devote their entire focus on practical subjects). That hobby?

Antique games. Maybe not this particular one, but it's enough to allow him to make some... educated guesses.

"Right. There are a lot of possible moves. I can tell that much," he says, dipping his head in a short nod as he regards the board and the pieces, touching the frames of his glasses in the process. "In some games you can calculate possible starting positions and work out the rest of the possible moves from there but..."

Margaret steps on up. "...What, are you going to play? You'd better know what you're--"
He quickly realizes that Margaret does not, in fact, know what she's doing.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Etheric Lenses toward his party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

What is Loren, some kind of bad luck magnet? The floor isn't supposed to fall out!! ...is it? Maybe this is a feature, not a bug.

IT'S A PRETTY CRAPPY FEATURE, THEN!!

"WAAAAGH!" Dean yelps alongside Lydia. Margaret demands answers from him, of all people; as they fall, he yells, "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?!" Whump. That's him landing on his butt, much like Lunata, followed by him groaning, much like Lunata. And while Dean might be blind to Resonance, he can see the spirits ahead just fine... although the black and white beads and how to place them are completely beyond him.

"This is a game?" he asks blankly of the others. "I've never seen a game like this before..." Corwynt talks a bit about what he knows, and Loren makes suggestions based on observations. Lydia sends a cat to paw at pieces (awwww) while Shalune suggests that it's maybe probably just like checkers. Dean, meanwhile, looks around in interest at all the long-gone gamblers of time past, though. "I wonder if one of them'd tell us if we asked?"

And, taken by his own suggestion, Dean trots off to attempt to do exactly that. Who knows if he'll get any results, though at least he's trying. Just like Margaret!

Just like Margaret.

DG: Dean Stark has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Go-ing My Way.
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Go-ing My Way *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 A tranquil chamber rises up in piano fashion behind this sliding door. There
 is nothing in this room save ancient tatami mats, floor cushions and solid
 wood boards, along with two pots of black and white flat beads.

 It doesn't take long before the spirits of gamblers long past manifest
 before you, dressed in yukata and taking whiffs of their ethereal pipes. It
 would seem that this is a game where you flip your opponent's beads by
 surrounding them with your own...

 The door ahead shall only open to those that demonstrate dominance in black
 or white. And with so many tables and spirits, there's no shortage of spaces
 to play.
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Injure, Suffer==================================
=========================<* Fortune Gear - Round 3 *>=========================
=========================< Results - Go-ing My Way >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          30 --(15)--> 45                Pass
Etheric Lenses                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          25 --(25)--> 50                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            30 --(15)--> 45                Pass
Travelers Cards                     3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        20 --(25)--> 45                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Corwynt                             20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Rememberizer                        2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         30 --(15)--> 45                Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  30 --(20)--> 50                Pass
Conditions: Collapse|Injure(2)|Madness|Suffer(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Indeed, through utilising the Rememberizer, Corwynt remembers the basics and the tenets of the ancient game which Filgaia does not appear to hold in its collective modern conscience. Margaret sits down in front of the ghost, kiseru to kiseru, as go-players are meant to do...

You think you can predict my strategy?

It is said that those at the uppermost echelons of a game's meta-strategy get stuck in the few optimal moves that they predict other players to guess, such that when someone makes--

A completely random move!!

--they're utterly baffled, like someone just walked up and gave them a fierce one right in the face. "Shore, you can," it is said in such a time.

Dean gets helpful advice from one of the gamblers, as his ghostly mouth begins moving:

" "

Oh... ghosts can't carry sound. ... this is a helpful piece of advice to remember, though!! Who knows what Dean's learnt from the helpful ghost. But pretty soon, with Schrodinger moving tiles and adding to the chaos element, and Shalune making comments about checkers strategy...

Soon, the board is mysteriously in Margaret's favor. Even Loren can't believe it!

The sliding door at the back opens as the poor ghost gambler drops into a position the ancients like to call 'the orz', as it ruminates over what could go so wrong...

DG: Corwynt has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Fortune Gear *>===============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - They Like To Say... *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The entranceway to Fortune Gear is shrouded under a thick layer of earth,
 though some supernatural presence retains its ostentatious appearance even
 after the ages have rent upon it. A ghostly koto and shakuhachi sets the
 mood as you step from sand to half-rotted bamboo mats, mechanical sliding
 paper doors unfurling in order.

 The parlour beyond features comfortable floor cushions and a large array of
 picture cards, featuring... Drifters and villains whose identities you are
 aware of! Something mystical must be in the air, to pull these memorable
 individuals from your mind.

                      "With the CaraKin, you'll never lose!"

                  "Surprise, that is a twisted ending by yours!"

               "Anything is possible as long as you don't give up!"

                                  "Boys are DUMB!"

      "I can't just stand by when I see someone who's hurting like that..."

                                   "KAGUYA YES!"


 The catchphrases just keep flying out from a ghostly machine in the centre
 -- and you will need an extremely sharp eye and a deft hand to swat the
 appropriate cards away from its hands!

 (OOC: Feel free to come up with other catchphrases! Observers may also join
 in with what their characters would say!)
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Suffer, Injure=====================================
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

The doorway opens into what might have been an entrance, had fortune favoured the party a different way. Ghostly melodies drift through the foyer as Corwynt strides through, his eyes swiveling to and fro, remaining poised, ready to answer. As the cards begin to appear in the air and flicker around the room, Corwynt grimaces, nearly rushing to the attack... but he stills his instincts, and regards them carefully.

The only thing I hate more than wasting time is wasting money!

She's not the Destroyer!

I'm not a cat! I'm a baby RED DRAGON!

Corwynt calls upon the Blessing, stirring the winds and setting the cards flying; his hand flickers out to pluck one of them from the air, after which he flips it over and reads it.

Ha HA! Discpline FEELS GOOD!

"Hn," he grunts. "It seems we will have to make our way with the use of these..."

He flips the card around. Dramatically.

"...naranja info cards."

DG: Corwynt has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, They Like To Say....
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata looks dumbfounded at the next parlour that they come across, gasping. "H-how does this machine know the CaraKin motto?!" A pause, as she thinks through the possible ways in which it could've happened:

1) The machine is magical and pulling it from their memories.
2) The machine heard it from some ambient recording given the CaraKin is public.
3) IT'S A CONSPIRACY AND THE CARAKIN MOTTO IS ACTUALLY OLDER THAN--

"We won't let you misuse the jingle any longer!" Lunata exclaims, sounding particularly defensive for no particular reason other than it's the CaraKin and by extension it's Jay's property. But as if sensing her anger and how easily riled up she is, a sudden card of her suddenly flings up as the machine announces:

Don't tell anyone I deep-fried potatoes, just this once--

-snikt-

The Lunata card falls apart into a thousand tiny pieces, and a red-eyed, black-shaded Lunata is marching towards the machine...

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, They Like To Say....
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"Eheh," grins the mechanic as she rubs at her hair, offering Lydia and Dean a rather easygoing smile. "I wonder? I guess I don't really tend to think of luck at all, y'know? You know what they say - if you ask for it too much, it won't come to you no matter what!" she lectures, briefly putting on an Old Granny sort of voice for apparently no reason at all.

She enters just behind Lunata, but is faster to react - "Wah!--" she blurts at the first snatch of dialogue, and in return:

"Wah!"

--echoes from the machine in front of her. She's too slow to catch her own card before the machine in front of them slaps its hand down upon a mostly-pink image of personified :D, but it doesn't take her long to pick up on the idea, as intuitive as it is. "Oh, we've gotta match--" she realizes all of a sudden, except that brings a host of other questions to the forefront of her mind, and her eyes become a kind of confused blank circle as they widen. "Wait, who's even been watching us? How do you get to the point of learnin' our catchphrases? I figured the Guardians wouldn't exactly care, y'know, it's just sorta--"

She cuts herself off when the cards are suddenly blown into a tornado in the air, standing to attention - she's gotten very fast at managing to yank the Little Dipper off her belt, packed down into a flat oblong of metal before a button sends it unfolding outwards in a complicated origami. It's very clearly some kind of cheaty technology, so obviously she'd never use it for something as frivolous as plucking the cards out of the sky. Except that she does.

She also glances over the edge, extremely uncertain as she realizes: "L-Lunie! No breaking priceless ancient machinery--!"

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Little Dipper toward her party's challenge, They Like To Say....
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia launches out a pair of portals to collect all the card bits and cards that are getting smacked around and deposit them in a neat pile off in the corner of the room.

That's it. That's how Lydia's helping right now. She also picks up the cat, so there's that.

She tries to alphabetize them but that's a bit much, so she largely takes the lazy way out of this one.

"Wait, you deep fried potatos?" Lydia asks of Lunata. "I want some. I want some...!"

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, They Like To Say....
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

"N-no! The CaraKin is a healthy house! We eat healthy fooooods, noooo!" Lunata sounds panicked. "This machine lies!"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Don't be embarrassed..." Lydia says. "Enjoy tasty foods, especially anything fried..!!"

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

"Wooowww!" Dean breathes as the group enters a foyer and a machine plays music and busts out various cards while familiar voices sound.

'Anything is possible as long as you don't give up!' says one card, with determination.

"--huh?" Dean utters, running up to catch the picture. "Hey, that's me!!" When it flies away from his grasp, Dean summons Twin Fenrir and opens fire with the Freeze Ray, hopefully hitting the picture and giving it weight so it falls in a straight line, making it easier to catch. "Haha, wow, that's weird! What's *with* this place, anyway?"

He's not entirely sure if this Fortune mansion place is really a Golem so far, but... at least it hasn't been boring! Meanwhile the machine spits out a quote of Lunata's, and Dean blinks over at her as she and Lydia have a disagreement on the appropriateness of deep-fried foods. "Hey, it's okay, Lunie!" he reassures his friend. "There's nothing wrong with having deep-fried potatoes once in a while. Grease is good for your guts!"

...so Dean says, with absolute sincerity and apparently no understanding whatsoever of the effects of excessive oil on the human digestive system.

DG: Dean Stark has used his Tool Freeze Ray toward his party's challenge, They Like To Say....
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

Margaret sweeps her cards up.

ROYAL - STRAIGHT - FLUSH

She is unusually sassily walking as she moves along. It might approach dancing if that was allowed. Dean gets a slyly radiant smile, and her gaze lingers on Lydia, and more to the point, Lydia's cat...

The door...

Cards! Margaret's momentarily startled when some entity brings forth cards and placards drawing matters forth. "I wish I knew," she tells Dean, before one particular nook has three recognizable individuals. As cards fly out, she looks at three familiar faces -

"Oh goddess save me goddess save me goddess save me" - This one gets put in front of the man Loren would recognize as GRIZ, who was grinning and giving a thumbs up.
"I'll never go hungry again!" - This goes to Silf, who is beaming in a way that shows her crooked teeth.
"It never ends." - This, to Rex, who is running a hand through his hair.

Margaret herself is present in one of these icons, although when Margaret snatches a card out of the air - and reads it aloud, "Hop to or I will eat your star star star star star like dumplings on a stick" - she then calls to others, "This one's wrong, do we need to swap them??"

Another card comes flying straight at her head, and a gold chain round her neck twinkles -- as she leans back and avoids it, then forwards to avoid another -- twisting with blurring, atrocious speed as she calls to Dean, "Do you fry dumplings? Maybe this one's yours! I would NEVER say something like this."

SIX DAYS AGO WHEN THE GUARD HAD TO PREPARE A NEW FIELD CAMP SECTION

Margaret said exactly that thing.

DG: Margaret has used her Tool Swine Herder Necklace toward her party's challenge, They Like To Say....
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

It's the sort of strategy that shouldn't work. Random moves just can't coalesce into a competent strategy -- otherwise there's no point to the pursuit and study of other players and their mindset at all and...

And yet, flaunting the whole of it, Margaret wins.

Give Loren a moment or two, he's having a private silent scream into his own psychic space.

In the end, he collects himself, spares one last and only slightly broken glance at the gameboard, and hurries along.

It'll be hours until he stops and realizes that all the players were but spirits.

Given how the place is structured, it must have multiple entrances. It's littered with cards in here, he thinks, stooping to pluck one from the ground.

"Where's the next entrance? It doesn't seem as if anything's here--"

Sound echoes about the chamber. Words ring out. And abruptly, cards are pulled into a vortex at the center of it all, hovering there in midair. The one in his hand is ripped away, giving him just a fleeting view of the face of the card as it hovers high overhead. Pink rabbit ears--

"Psychologically pivotal! PIVOTAL! I like this word! Pivotal pivotal pivotal!"

Well, that's familiar. In precisely the way he'd like to forget about. "Really," he mutters, half to himself, and half to the room at large, before he sighs, reaches into the bag slung over his shoulder, and withdraws a scalpel. It's not the most ideal thrown object, but given his usual options...

He hurls a knife at the card.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, They Like To Say....
===============================<* Fortune Gear *>===============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - They Like To Say... *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The entranceway to Fortune Gear is shrouded under a thick layer of earth,
 though some supernatural presence retains its ostentatious appearance even
 after the ages have rent upon it. A ghostly koto and shakuhachi sets the
 mood as you step from sand to half-rotted bamboo mats, mechanical sliding
 paper doors unfurling in order.

 The parlour beyond features comfortable floor cushions and a large array of
 picture cards, featuring... Drifters and villains whose identities you are
 aware of! Something mystical must be in the air, to pull these memorable
 individuals from your mind.

                      "With the CaraKin, you'll never lose!"

                  "Surprise, that is a twisted ending by yours!"

               "Anything is possible as long as you don't give up!"

                                  "Boys are DUMB!"

      "I can't just stand by when I see someone who's hurting like that..."

                                   "KAGUYA YES!"


 The catchphrases just keep flying out from a ghostly machine in the centre
 -- and you will need an extremely sharp eye and a deft hand to swat the
 appropriate cards away from its hands!

 (OOC: Feel free to come up with other catchphrases! Observers may also join
 in with what their characters would say!)
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Suffer, Injure=====================================
==========================<* Fortune Gear - Round 4 *>==========================
=======================< Results - They Like To Say... >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          45 --(20)--> 65                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          50 --(10)--> 60                Pass
Freeze Ray                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            45 --(10)--> 55                Pass
Swine Herder Necklace               3   Agility Effects: Rally
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        45 --(10)--> 55                Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       35 --(10)--> 45                Pass
Little Dipper                       2   Agility Effects: Quicken
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Corwynt                             35 --(10)--> 45                Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         45 --(10)--> 55                Pass
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  50 --(20)--> 70                Pass
Conditions: Collapse|Injure(2)|Madness|Slow(2)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

The card matching goes pretty much without incident, except when Loren's knife pins the card, it also hits a second card behind it that reads:

Must be because week. No respect?! Then give them inspect to respec an aspect!!!

That one must have slipped in there when no one was looking.

DG: Shalune Amira has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Bet on Red... Blood *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Sand trickles before your eyes; within mere moments, a large stone garden
 has surfaced from mesh slats. A giant board sits in the middle, a five by
 five board, with... your faces in the centre, and other kinds of monsters
 all around you!

 A nearby Tatzelwurm devours a poor Balloon -- and a red mark appears on its
 square! This looks like an all-out violent race to form a horizontal or
 diagonal match... with your life on the line!
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim, Suffer, Injure=====================================
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"... y'know, um, if the Guardian of Luck's statue is actually here, that kinda raises more questions than it answers. I mean, sure, it explains what this place is, but I'm not sure about the Guardians just recordin' all our catchphrases, y'know?" Shalune natters absently towards the other Carakin members (and Dean, who is an honorary Carakin member, and Margaret, who Shalune seems remarkably comfortable around...)

What she's saying is fair enough, but it would probably hold a lot more weight if it weren't for the way in which she's hefting a chunk of the machine they just passed, having identified some of its wiring and components as probably being behind the mechanism that played their voices back. She-- claimed it was naturally detachable, but those wires do look rather stripped...

Shalune, you'll ruin the dig for everyone else!

She jumps back as the table erupts out of the sand, missing the way in which several monsters do the same around them - she's too busy focusing on the board, her eyebrows raised at the little symbols that move back and forth magically upon it as one of them updates in real time. "Wowww-- check it out, it's some kinda automatic game. Oh, oh, what if I--"

Before her brain can catch up with her mouth, or her hands, she's booted her own token over onto one of the monster spaces, waiting expectantly for a response. Abruptly, the ground shifts beneath her, and with a sudden 'sproing' has rocketed upwards at an angle, a piston throwing the pink-haired girl across in the direction she moved her token. There's a very confused squawk, but at least Shalune manages to act on sheer instinct - when she lands on the poor Balloon it's with a plume of laser fire from her shotstaff, hurriedly activated mid-air.

Shalune lands in kind of a heap, letting out an unhappy 'uuu', but at least there's a blue circle in that space now.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
<Pose Tracker> Corwynt has posed.

"It could be," Il Drifter Misterioso Corwynt suggests casually to Shalune, "That the answer is that these so-called Guardians are in fact not worthy of worship or regard, being nothing but trumped-up phantoms masquerading as benevolent beings, huddling in a corner chewing over their paltry scraps of grace like regurgitated mouthsful of stale vomit."

...

"...of course, that is just one theory," Corwynt notes as he leaps toward the attack, raising both arms to guard himself as a Gob-Gob lifts a crude ARM in his direction. The little man slips to his ride as the weapon fires, the ugly round glancing off brilliant vambraces wrapped around his forearms; a tight turn and a kick send the creature hurtling toweard one of the holes.

DG: Corwynt has used his Tool Vambraces toward his party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata has a quiet frown as she, hypocritically, starts lecturing Shalune on stealing. "Lunie! We pinkie-swore that you wouldn't appropriate ancient relic devices out of Ruins!" A pause, and she wags her fingers, "Not even if you brushed your teeth this morning!" As if there's any equivalence between the two?!

Her eyes widen as the table erupts out and monsters do as well-- and there's a quiet sigh as she stares at the board to go, "We-- have to... oh! Oh!!"

Her mind flashes back to Starfall Saloon game nights.

"It's Bingo! Just with-- um, monsters?"

She reaches to her pocket and suddenly fits a ridiculous looking pitch-black gas mask with an overdone skull and teeth decal pattern over it. She huffs and puffs, breathing heavily through it. Then she leaps up to the top of the board, as if to draw attention and menace the monsters.

"I AM THE NIGHT. I AM-- oww!"

She hunches over for a moment.

"lunieee my tongue got caught on the mouth flap"

... ...

Well, she's doing a good job of attracting the monsters, at least.

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Ghastly Gas Mask toward her party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

It's okay. The machine will probably show back up by the time the next group decides to give it a whirl. Really!

"I guess for this we have to fight the monsters?" She exhales slowly, waiting patiently for Lunata to attract the monsters. She does not try to throw Corwynt INTO the monsters which probably means she has obtained some character growth.

This doesn't stop her from saying, "Well one way to see how the Guardians do."

And she promptly summons Rigdobrite into the air and just throws him at ALL the monsters. All of them. Hopefully ... hopefully this doesn't just undo all of Lunata's hard work being a tempting meal.

"I feel like a lot of problems can be solved with orbital bombardment, honestly." She asides to Margaret.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

Well, that appears to have worked, but it seems his throw has caught another card in the mix.
Fleetingly, Loren tilts his head slightly to one side.

Moving on.

"...Where have I seen something like this?" 'Thomas' wonders, considering the board layout set before them. He's seen it somewhere but he's not really pinning the tail on the donkey here, as it were, a whole series of possibilities presenting themselves. "...And no rules? What, are we meant to guess again?"

He has enough time to lift an eyebrow at Corwynt's comment on the Guardians before -- his expression flattening into dull unwelcome realization as one monster destroys enough -- it occurs to him just what the stakes are for this one.

Which morphs further into a lengthy judgmental silence as Lunata and Shalune both... demonstrate their might. "..."

Which might be one reason why ultimately 'Thomas' sighs, unfastens the clasps for his bag, and sets about the time-honored task of passing out the recovery items to anyone close at hand -- or within throwing range.
Suddenly, the backgrounding for his aim might (partially) reveal itself.
"Fine."

"Here, just take this. Try not to die."

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

"Recording?" Dean echoes back at Lunata. "I mean, it's just quotes and stuff. What's the harm?" Apparently there's some DANGEROUS SECRETS that could get out, like Lunie cooking with oil... but Dean doesn' see anything actually wrong with that, so how bad a secret could it be? Corwynt throws in his opinion on this, and Dean's response is... to stare at him blankly. "Huh?"

Maybe use fewer words next time, Cor.

Meanwhile sand pours in around them, and monsters pop up around them. Dean has no more idea about the rules of this 'game' than anyone else, but he recognizes a fight when he sees one, and Twin Fenrir appear in his grip once more. "Thanks for the help, Tommy!" he says to Loren, before wincing at Lunata's attempt to be threatening. "Oof... You okay, Lunie?"

However, once the monsters start lining up, that just makes it easier for him to fire bullets straight through them. Pew pew pew pew!

DG: Dean Stark has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

"The Guardian of Luck? Here? But these are all games of -" Margaret begins, before her brow furrows. No, she thinks, maybe it does hold up. She glances at Dean afterwards, even as the chaos of their new arrival makes her swing out her Naginata.

"Dean, sweetie, I'll cover you," she says, before declaring

"Starlight Express!"

A shimmering corona of purple forms around her, the sort of Darkness that is literally and actually palpable "Dark" instead of just, like, total evil or literal small-D darkness. Shadow might be accurate. Nebular constellations and ten thousand twinkling lights form in the shadow as it rises upwards to embrace around Margaret, all the lights drawing down like the lamp at the front of a fast-moving train...!!

The effect fades. Margaret blurs around like a purple streak. Those checking the menu would see that her action speed is now something ridiculous like +25, as if she'd Shouted herself thirty times in a row.

That said, it does no good against counterblows, passives, and armor won't help the heart stay sharp.

DG: Margaret has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Bet on Red... Blood.
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Bet on Red... Blood *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Sand trickles before your eyes; within mere moments, a large stone garden
 has surfaced from mesh slats. A giant board sits in the middle, a five by
 five board, with... your faces in the centre, and other kinds of monsters
 all around you!

 A nearby Tatzelwurm devours a poor Balloon -- and a red mark appears on its
 square! This looks like an all-out violent race to form a horizontal or
 diagonal match... with your life on the line!
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim, Suffer, Injure=====================================
=========================<* Fortune Gear - Round 5 *>=========================
======================< Results - Bet on Red... Blood >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          65 --(5)--> 70                 Pass
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          60 --(5)--> 65                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Ghastly Gas Mask                    1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       45 --(5)--> 50                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Corwynt                             45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Vambraces                           2   Combat  Effects: Stalwart
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         55 --(5)--> 60                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  70 --(20)--> 90                Pass
Conditions: Collapse|Injure(2)|Madness|Maim|Slow(1)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Corwynt has left your party.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune might have landed safely, but not without cost; swirly-eyed and reeling, she's kind of stuck bobbling from side to side as she tries to get her bearings. "A-ah... you can do it, Lunieee~..." she burbles at the waitress' cry of pain, the both of them almost looking out for the count - but at least Lunata's managing to draw a lot of the monsters' attention towards her successfully.

Lydia holds up her Medium for a summon - but above her in the air, another token materializes. Cut in the same manner as those that hold their faces on the board, it spins in midair - and lands blank-side up. Perhaps this is Chapapanga rolling the dice on whether Rigdobrite's appearance is actually allowed... and for that matter, Dean's shots fail to do much to scatter the enemies, only causing them to maneuver further away from him and towards the waitress in the gas mask.

Perhaps that's for the best, though. With El Mysteriouso Corwynt flinging the rest of the monster stragglers towards where Lunata is still posing, it means they're all bunched up to allow Margaret the chance to tear through them - and with all the monsters clustered in one direction, one entire column of the board neatly lights up in blue circles. There is a very audible 'Ding!'.

After that, it's just a matter of patching up the poor Lunie-pair, but thankfully Loren's got that well in hand.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia shakes her medium a few times. "Hey...HEY!! Is this thing broken???"

DG: Lunata Croze has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Final Round *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 No matter how small or large one's winnings are, gamblers all go to one
 place in the end: to the cashier, to cash in their chips to claim their
 hard-earned prizes.

                                   "Not yet."


 ... that would, at least, be the plan -- if it weren't for a malevolent (but
 not Malevolent) spirit rising out from the cashier booth. He resembles a
 finely dressed man with a tall hat and refined, flowing robes.

               "A gambler shall always play until the last round."


 The spectre raises his arms, and a swarm of ornate matchlock pistols and
 jade-tinged blades rise to surround him. And i that weren't enough, a
 barrier of coins tinged with the power of greed manifests around his ghostly
 form.

                     "My final bet... is my soul! Ante up!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Eventually, eventually, the group of Drifters finally come onto something approximating an inner chamber in all of this. It's a rather extravagant chamber of sculpted, gilded railings and comfortable seating areas, along with what appears to be an exchange booth for those that win handsomely to trade in for all kinds of unique and powerful prizes.

You know. This is a JRPG, so some Ultimate Weapon is lingering there in the back for some reason--

"Not yet."

Or not. The man that rises out of the floor is dressed in refined robes, the kind a minister from an ancient age would be dressed in, with the split shoulders and everything. His hat is as tall as his face, and he manifests several glowing weapons -- pistols and katanas -- to surround his form.

Suddenly, Ge Ramda rises from within Lunata as well -- with a quiet scowl on its face.

"Ge-Ge...?" asks Lunata, confusedly--

--but before she can question her further, the ghost fires on them -- enchanted coins flying around and ricocheting around the chamber, and to those who get too close, the blades of greed are there to sever not only their lives, but perhaps their coin purses as well!!

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Ghastly Gas Mask toward her party's challenge, The Final Round.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune's not so dumb as to strike ahead of the party - she's keeping pace with Lunata and Dean at the very least, because she knows they're more competent fighters than she is, and would be relying on Lydia if she actually knew much about how the girl tends to fight. "... I don't see a statue..." she mumbles to herself as they slip into the central chamber. "If you put it anywhere it'd be here, right...?"

She shrinks back a little as the g-g-ghost floats into view, pulling her shotstaff up into a ready position as she checks the battery is in place. "A-ah-- hello? We kind of gambled a bit... I hope that's okay?" she burbles gently--

--and then yelps as the first of the blades rockets towards her, throwing herself to one side to roll away from it. When she pushes out of the roll it's at a stumbling sort of run, strafing around the treasury and firing an array of bolts of light in towards the spectre.

Not to mention, wailing a little. "I-I don't wanna attack the dead...! I don't know if this'll even work...!!"

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Final Round.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren doesn't really enjoy fighting. When stuff like this comes up, she tends to have one go-two plan and she just does it. It's one thing to fight in a live or die situation, but these are ruins. She feels like a home invader rather than a defender or something. Sometimes you gotta, but it's not really her joy.

That being said, there's now a new spectre present. Greed? No, Ultra Greed. Lydia frowns severely...and then she charges!

"Capitalism is a flawed system!!!" Lydia shouts, striking with her blade-arm thing. "The perfect system would be if I, Lydia, have the money!!"

So close Lydia, so close.

"It's okay! You can't hurt that which is dead!" She adds. "So you can attack ghosts all you want!"

She glances to Margaret. "Right?"

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Final Round.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

Once upon a time, Elly had ruminated on the wisdom of using one's real name or not. There were strong advantages to a fake name, to be sure.
But the biggest disadvantage is this: the name a fake identity uses doesn't evoke the same sort of instinctive immediate response someone can have to their own name.

Thus: there's a delayed response on Loren's part, particularly since Dean uses a nickname. Not even an indignant insistance on his full name.
Not at first.

"That's Thomas," the 'ex-student' mutters, checking the contents of his bag briefly. He still should be fine for now, but this is going to cause problems.
Hopefully no one's about to receive any further, significant injuries.

In the meantime: they have a match! Which means the way forward -- into the gallery beyond -- is now open.

"Maybe it's unrelated," Loren comments, as Shalune speculates on the existence of a statue. He pauses, as if weighing something about her once again. ...At some point, a visit to the Caravan Kinship may be in order.
Assuming he doesn't die on duty somewhere in Krosse.
"We're only assuming this place has a statue."

This is said in those moments before Loren is once again face-to-face with a spirit. "Er," he manages, pulling up short.
And as another spirit rises from Lunata. She was speaking to it earlier, wasn't she--
It's not a hallucination. Why can he see it?
And more importantly, how is he going to report on this without the Major making presumptions about his sanity again?

Though this may be a secondary concern. 'Spirit' it may be, but those blades seem real enough to cut.

Briefly he considers his options.
And decides this isn't worth even a chance at failure, not if he can help it. "Catch!" He tosses a handful of vials.

"And spread out!" he shouts, making good use of that strategy himself shortly thereafter.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, The Final Round.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

"Thomas sounds kind of uptight, though! No offense or anything, it's a nice name, but nicknames can be fun. I kinda wish I had a longer name, so I could have a nickname. You sure you mind being called Tommy?" Dean asks Thomas, whose name isn't even really Thomas. "It's a lot friendlier-sounding!" Because obviously that's what 'Thomas' wants most.

As the group makes their way through the last of the challenges and head towards the end of the casino(?), Dean smiles over at his friends. He might be a better fighter in general than Shalune, but his main concern is his friends being okay, and that last fight... didn't go so hot... He didn't mean to herd the monsters over towards Lunata, really. He's better at getting up in monsters's faces, anyway. The mention of no Statue makes his smile fade. "You're right," he says, then looks over at Thomas. "You're right... We all kinda assumed there might be a Statue here." He scratches his head. "Darn... We must've jumped to conclusions."

Pause.

"Hey, wait a second--where'd Mr. Misterioso go?"

And on that note, the gambler ghost appears, conveniently preventing there from being any time or opportunity to examine this closely. Dean grimaces at the appearance of the spectre. ...No, not Ge-Ge; he can't actually see her, still. Perhaps seeing the casino spirits is a function of the Fortune Gear itself...? Regardless! "Argh--I don't wanna bet my soul!" he shouts. "That's just wrong! Our souls are *ours*! You go back to where you belong!!" And with that, after catching a vial from Thomas, he follows his advice and spreads out from the others, before veering in towards the ghost and charging at it headlong!

...

Dean... it's... it's a *ghost*... That may not be the best of tactics...

DG: Dean Stark has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Final Round.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

Margaret seems, in a word, spent by her exertions, and while she's slathered in enough essential oil to prevent any ill aromas from arising, she is visibly sweating. She doesn't blather during the journey inwards for some time, and in odd moments has to pause and take a breath, which she does not seem to have done before.

Pause, that is. She breathes, don't worry. It's dwarves and Servbots that don't need to breathe.

"The dead are gone," Margaret answers Lydia. "Sometimes echoes remain, but I mean, it's just like how the body's left behind, even if it's more like a... magical shadow, or whatever. These aren't things you have to worry about. They're just being manipulated, if they're not just... wandering around the garrets or whatever!"

Loren throws a vial. Margaret snatches it out of the air and downs it. Hopefully it is not the Anti-Elf Equation. "Thank you, darling," she says to Loren, and out comes the naginata again.

"So that barrier's moving," Margaret muses. "Just how well can it hold up from -"

"Multiple," Margaret says.
"Angles," Margaret says.
"Of," Margaret says.
"Attack?" Margaret says.
"We wanted a line," the fifth Margaret says.
"Rude," says the sixth.

Yes, there are presently, if briefly, SEVEN of her - and they all glance at each other, as if sharing a sly secret.

Then they rush the cashier, blades out. Only one is real - BUT WHICH??

"If the stakes are a soul," the Margarets say in chorus, "I'll put it all on the line!" (Margaret #4 says, thoughtfully, "Too much?" while glancing at Dean.)

DG: Margaret has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Final Round.
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Final Round *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 No matter how small or large one's winnings are, gamblers all go to one
 place in the end: to the cashier, to cash in their chips to claim their
 hard-earned prizes.

                                   "Not yet."


 ... that would, at least, be the plan -- if it weren't for a malevolent (but
 not Malevolent) spirit rising out from the cashier booth. He resembles a
 finely dressed man with a tall hat and refined, flowing robes.

               "A gambler shall always play until the last round."


 The spectre raises his arms, and a swarm of ornate matchlock pistols and
 jade-tinged blades rise to surround him. And i that weren't enough, a
 barrier of coins tinged with the power of greed manifests around his ghostly
 form.

                     "My final bet... is my soul! Ante up!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
=========================<* Fortune Gear - Round 6 *>=========================
========================< Results - The Final Round >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          65 --(100)--> 165              Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        60 --(100)--> 160              Pass
Ghastly Gas Mask                    1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          70 --(100)--> 170              Pass
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       50 --(100)--> 150              Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         60 --(100)--> 160              Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            60 --(100)--> 160              Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  90 --(10)--> 100               Fail
Conditions: Treasure(1)
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: Dean Stark is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lunata Croze is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Loren Voss is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Shalune Amira is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lydia Seren is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Margaret is too exhausted to continue!
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has successfully explored Fortune Gear!
==============================<* Fortune Gear *>==============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Exquisite Weaponry *>=====================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The spirit hisses into a shower of ephemeral motes and disappears without a
 trace.

 One of the weapons he was using drops to the ground, remarkably intact given
 the abuse it received during the battle. It's a slightly curved blade with a
 beautiful, if ominous emerald tinge, a sign of the jade worked in to the
 steel of the weapon.

 You may take it with you if you'd like, or sell it for a no doubt handsome
 sum to some antique weapons' collector.

 For a moment, just as you're about to leave, you catch a glimpse of a tiny
 statue -- undoubtedly, the Statue of Chapapanga, the Guardian of Luck! But
 then it flits out of sight... you will have to return later.
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

As for the previous battle: "You will? Thanks a ton!" Dean says to Margaret, grinning her way when she says she'll cover him--and then she enacts a Darqueness spell, and Dean is suitably impressed. "Woaahhh!! She's so fast...!" And having much more success at taking out the creatures than he is. Whoops.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

"Yeah... I'm all right, Dean," Lunata lets out a tired sigh as she re-sheaths the katana and slips the gas mask on once more. She moves to concentrate--

--before several shots come too close and she's forced to dart to one side, with a wince. Ge Ramda, on the other hand, seems poised to just charge forward and seize the spirit by one of her claws with a low and lamenting growl, prompting a particularly strange exchange:

"Unhand me, daughter!"

That gets Lunata's face to drop for a moment, enough to nearly get her shot-- but fortunately, Shalune's shotstaff bolts ricochet off and prevent harm from being done to her.

While Dean wonders where Mister Misterioso went -- and indeed, where did he go? Perhaps to braver dimensions ahead...! He snags a vial from Tommy-- sorry, Thomas, and charges along with his combat rods drawn! Curiously enough, they make contact and cause the spirit to howl in pain, even as several blades swerve on in and cleave a little too close for his liking!

Tom-- Loren-- tells them to spread out and does just so, taking advantage of the rather large space to protect himself against some of the projectiles being shot his way... and then Margaret -- sorry, seven Margaret charges the spirit and strikes at seven different angles! But indeed, I don't even know which one is real!!

Lydia proves that Capitalism is indeed a flawed system, but the spirit obliges her request and pumps her full of coins. Which would be a good thing, except the coins are being shot out of his guns, so it might hurt a bit, but... hey, money?

It seems to be going well, but then something, something distracts everyone--

--for the Statue of the Guardian of Luck, Chapapanga floats into plain sight. It resembles an adorable little mascot with goggles going mrrp with a poop-eating :D face. And then it shimmers...

... and some ethereal token lands on the black side.

A sudden overwhelming force shoves everyone off their feet and off the ground, beyond the distance in which the cashier doors close. It would seem that they weren't able to get through and exorcise the spirit... though it's not a wash, it would seem!

For one of the blades the spirit is using clatters on the ground beside them.

There's a low growl from Ge Ramda. The lichly bride stares towards the closed doors, and for once... just shuts herself off, transforming back into a cube to, assumedly, sulk like an undead spectre.

"Ge-Ge..."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

With a cut off 'bwah', Shalune feels her feet leave the floor; her exact path backwards through the door is obscured by her hair in her face, and next thing she knows she's rolling along the floor with a pained yelp, before managing somehow to pick herself up - only to find she's accidentally put a knee on some of her hair.

Oww...

"W-who was that guy, anyway? He said--..." she tries to say, but cuts off as Ge Ramda huffily vanishes, shrinking backwards as if bit by a very guilty bug. The mechanic just whines, then lifts her head to realize that the weapon left behind was also blown out through the door with them, and has embedded itself into the wall just above where her head would have been.

That leaves her silent for quite a while.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Daughter? What's this ghost guy talking about? It's kind of weird, seeing one ghost but not a different one... Dean looks back and forth between the two, before deciding that fighting is better than sitting around wondering. While he may not agree with Margaret about bidding souls, he does admit that that thing she does where she makes six more of herself is pretty awesome; the line might be too much, but he's grinning at her when Meg #4 looks, so it can't be that bad.)

But then the Statue of Chapapanga appears--

And then some kind of strange force *pulses*, and Dean's knocked to his feet. By the time he hops back upright, the spirit is gone, leaving behind a beautiful but frankly useless blade. Dean's already got a pair of perfectly good ARMs; he doesn't need a sword.

"...Yeah, what was *that* all about?" he quasi-echoes Shalune instead.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

That's a familiar technique, he thinks abruptly, as Margaret seemingly splits into various Margarets. Where has he seen--

He'll have to wait to think about this one fully later.

Loren remains planted on terra firma (or what passes for it, here)--

briefly.

"What--?!"

Try as he might, amidst the ghostly onslaught of coin and blade, some unearthly force lifts him as it lifts the rest. He only gets the most minute of sightings of the tiny statue, before it vanishes from sight.
And he and the lot of them are cast from the Fortune Gear in one fell swoop, scattering across the terrain at the crossroads.

The manor's doors shut, and already it seems as if it's preparing itself to trundle along into the distance.

"Ugh," he utters, briefly grimacing as he picks himself up. His gaze rests on the blade, before he looks away as if to disregard it altogether. Great, all this and he's probably wasted supplies, at that. Hopefully the next town will be more obliging than the last (no, it won't).

"Who knows. What's more important is that we know there's a statue within."

Command will want to know, even if he's not certain what they'll intend to do about it.